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Friday, February 4, 2011

Taxis In NYC

Hailing a cab in New York City should be easy. It is easy for all those that are bipedal. If you ever want an exercise in frustration I suggest you use a wheelchair and try hailing cab. Good luck with that effort. I for one have given up. I refuse to give my money to rude cab drivers. Every experience I have had with cab drivers in the city has been overwhelmingly negative. Last time i took a cab the driver spent the entire ride telling me what a hassle it was to "help" a person like me, that he lost time "helping" me, and that they should have "special" taxis for people like me. I told this man I would be thrilled to use a "special" taxi but of the 13,237 yellow cabs only 230 are wheelchair-accessible. Gee no wonder i have trouble.

The situation hailing a cab in NYC is unlikely to get better any time soon. The city is in the process of choosing the cab of the future and of the three finalists only one is accessible. It is unlikely this accessible cab will be chosen. The city has suggested and had a stealth experimental dispatching number people with a disability could call when they needed a taxi This was in the estimation of the city a reasonable accommodation. If this is reasonable to you I think we have vastly different interpretation of the word. Now Senator Tom Harkin has backed the accessible taxi. This is great but for one thing--Harkin is from Iowa not New York. I applaud Harkin's support but doubt it will do much good. I wish I had an answer to the problem of hailing cabs in New York and other cities such as Chicago. I do know other cities present no problems--mostly Western cities such as Seattle and San Francisco. I also know cities like London present no problems either. Perhaps we need to study the issue of why--why is this a problem in some cities and not an issue in others. In the meantime i will continue to use MTA buses that provide slow but reliable service.


ginger said...

I have never had a problem taking a taxi in my area.
Here the cab drivers are not permitted to help a person up and down a ramp but they will assist a person to the taxi on a safe walkway.
So far I have been lucky in having my chair placed by the cab driver in the trunk since it is collapsible.
New York City is rougher.
A chair with wheels that detach can be placed in the back seat. However they are extremely expensive.
A chair is like a cane or a piece of luggage. Chairs can easily be placed in the trunk in less than a minute. My concerns about a cab driver placing a chair in the trunk is that the chair could be damaged on purpose to discourage usage.
Any person, cab driver included, who passes derogatory comments can be charged with discrimination, violating the rights of the disabled, harassment, and anything else your attorney feels is feasible.
Until you heal to the point that you can sit for an hour, a taxi ride is dangerous to your health. Some people are going to have to take the taxis, endure the insults and chance their chair being damaged. Publicity will then be necessary along with lawsuits.

Holden said...

Bill, that just sucks. I always thought my hometown (NYC) was the best in transport... until I needed accessible taxis. NYC truly sucks at that. Worse the city is thinking of giving people who need access-a-ride taxi fare instead. That wouldn't work well unless you could easily hail and use a regular taxi.

If I have my service dog with me I can't even hail a cab alone because none of them will stop for me. The only place in the city I can get a cab alone is the stand at Madison Square Garden. A recent change in my health means that places I would normally walk/stand with my cane, I really need a wheelchair now. The thought of trying get transport around NYC in my TiLite gives me a headache.

Just the thought of getting around my college gives me a headache. Recently the disability people at my college decided wheelchairs are personal property and if you need rides from public safety (because of your disability) the officers can't be required to transport your wheelchair as well. The service is similar to an on-campus taxi service for students with disabilities. I can just imagine the level of complaining to be endured if I wanted to instant on being transported. Totally not worth it. I'm pretty sure this is not legal and plan to see if it can be addressed within my civil rights complaint against them.

I'm in full agreement that opting out is sometimes the only sane solution.